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Editor's Comment: Pure London combines content with commerce

Keely Stocker

As the spring 18 trade show season continues, this week the Drapers team headed to cavernous exhibition centre Olympia London for the latest edition of women’s and men’s wear showcase Pure London.

Although the show seemed a little quieter than usual, particularly on the second day, brands we spoke to were happy with the turnout and said orders were being written (p44).

The relevance of trade shows and their place in the market is something we have discussed at Drapers for several  seasons now. As buyers increasingly place orders at showrooms, trade shows are become marketing and networking opportunities, rather than necessarily places to do business. 

pure spring 18

pure spring 18

Pure has introduced a series of content initiatives over the past few seasons to give buyers that extra reason to attend. For this edition, there were keynote addresses from designers Pam Hogg and Henry Holland, as well as panel discussions throughout the three days on topics such as social media, sourcing and working with influencers. Buyers I spoke to agreed that these content sessions were appealing, although they pointed out that they didn’t always have time to attend.

As I argued in my comment last week, making a store or event experiential is a great way to attract footfall, but it must not detract from the main point of business: it should only be done if it enhances the overall experience. Pure managed to strike a good balance between using content to create a buzz around the event, while ensuring product was still the main focus.

We also heard this week that Hawes & Curtis is to close seven stores to focus on bigger flagships and online trading. If retailers are to provide experiences rather than the standard shopping offer, the bigger stores make sense. Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Burberry are among the many fashion businesses that are streamlining their store portfolios.

This is a wise strategy that will allow them to offer better customer experiences within the remaining stores – using technology to integrate the various shopping channels and data to analyse customer journeys across them. The retailers that find the right balance between stores and a digital offering will thrive in a multichannel era.

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